Wednesday, May 25, 2016

New Reality TV Obsession: The Genius

Hey everyone! Seeing as Survivor and Big Brother Canada just ended, I figured I would give The Genius a shot since I see a lot of game show bloggers/live Tweeters talk about it. (FYI I am also one of these people hahaha so if you would like to follow me: @ericaefff).

The Genius is a Korean TV show that can be watched subtitled in English. The first season is available on YouTube, and subsequent seasons are available thanks to an anonymous Genius god named "Bumdidlyumptious" who uploads the episodes on Daily Motion (Google it, lol). At first it's a little difficult to wrap your head around the concepts and the characters because you have to be reading the subtitles, but if you like strategy games, I can assure you that it's well worth it.

The basic concept of the show is that 12 (I believe - something along this number) people are cast, and they have to win strategy games to move on to further episodes. Each episode comprises of a "main match" and a "death match". Every player competes in the main match, and the loser of the main match enters the death match. The loser of the death match is then eliminated from the show. Simple enough.

The strategy games are very, very interesting. I definitely wish that Big Brother, and to some extent Survivor, would adjust themselves with a few cues from The Genius. The games do involve a certain degree of intellect. Sometimes basic math and logic is involved, but, moreso, the games favor those with political and social prowess. A lot of the games cannot be won solo, and require forming alliances with other players. It would be strategically beneficial, therefore, for someone who struggles with mathematical concepts but who can be a good social liaison to team up with someone who can do the calculations/probabilities.

Another cool concept that The Genius introduces is the use of in-game currency. Each player has the opportunity to accumulate "garnets" - little red, cubical gems - worth 1,000,000 of real Korean money, which amounts to roughly $1000/garnet. The players go through the game amassing garnets, and the ultimate winner collects all of the garnets happen to be in play during the finale episode which are then exchanged for real money. Garnets can also be used to bribe other players, as well as purchase advantages during competitions. I love the idea that the gameplay throughout the season affects the final amount in the pot - it adds an element of accountability and pressure to perform well.

This is the element that I think would work well for Big Brother. Having tokens worth real $$ that can be put in play during the season adds an extra bit of thrill with possible gambles during comps, and it has the power to flip the social game on its head because people would definitely be motivated by money.

Back to The Genius. One thing I love about the show is the casting. Actually, I have one gripe about the casting which I'll put out there first: there is a highly disproportionate amount of men cast versus women, which sucks. That said, the men and women that are cast are entertaining, charismatic, and brilliant. Some of them truly are geniuses: sky-high IQs, MENSA members, Harvard grads. Some of them are pro-gamers: videogamers, professional pool, and poker players. That said, the majority of the cast are other public figures like pop stars, broadcasters, and actors. You get a really satisfying mix of intellect and charisma.

Nearly none of the characters are boring, and all are eager to get involved in the gameplay. I believe this is a product of good casting and game dynamics. The games are set up so that there is a definitive winner and a definitive loser - the fact that there is a definitive loser who is in danger every episode is what differentiates the competition gameplay from that of Big Brother and Survivor. Imagine if the first off the pole in a Survivor immunity challenge would be automatically up for elimination? That adds an entirely new degree of strategy and will to survive. Big Brother-wise, the chances of "floating" being a viable strategy would greatly diminish. I think both shows would become exponentially more entertaining if losing a competition put you in some kind of danger.

In terms of the games on The Genius, they are wildly entertaining and strategic. One of my favorites so far has been the Zombie Game, in which all 12 or so players pick cards out of a hat that assign them the role of "human" or "zombie". At the beginning of the game there are 2 zombies. There are 10 rounds, and each round a player must "touch" another player by both placing their hands on a glowing orb in the center of the room. If a zombie touches with a human, the human becomes a zombie. If a human touches with a human, they both remain safe and win a garnet each. If a zombie touches a zombie, nothing happens. The catch is that they must touch with a different player each round at least once, but they can touch multiple times too. Also, they each get one vial of antidote which they can consume within 10 minutes of touching another player if they believe they've accidentally touched with a zombie. They can also purchase additional vials with garnets if necessary. If, by the end of the game, every player has turned into a zombie, the 2 original zombies share a joint win. If there are humans left over, the human with the highest number of garnets wins and the human with the lowest number of garnets loses. If the number of garnets are equal amongst the humans, they share a joint win and pick a zombie for elimination. Watching the players scramble to figure out who's a zombie and who isn't is so much fun.

As you can probably tell, the opportunity for strategizing, lying, bribing, and forming beneficial alliances is pretty immense, which opens the show up to some pretty fantastic gaming. I'm about halfway through season 2 and I can't wait to see who wins!

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